If I ever go on a killing spree where I murder racist white people, I’m going to do it while wearing an expensive, tailored business suit. My racist victims will never see it coming. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about racist white people (as opposed to white people generally), it’s that they seem to be OBSESSED with how minority males dress. If you interviewed a casual, “don’t call me racist” racist, it’d go like this:

YOU: Do you think you can judge people based on the color of their skin?
RACIST: Just the skin?
YOU: Yeah.
RACIST: Well, like, probably not?
YOU: What about the clothes they wear?
RACIST: And their race? Clothes and race together??
YOU: Sure.
RACIST: I mean [fidgeting] like [sweating] COME ON! If a WHITE GUY was dressed like one of those ni… urban youths, I’d judge him.
YOU: Yeah. And? So that makes it okay?
RACIST: EXACTLY! Just look at them. You can tell.

Sorry, I made that last line up. In the real world, when a judge is playing the role of “Don’t Call Me Racist,” the line is: “You can tell by their dress and attitude.” Truth is more prejudiced than fiction….

The funny thing (funny in a “this racism is killing me inside” kind of way) is that Peoria Judge Michael Risinger is a former public defender who was actually trying to outline a regime where he would help young black men.

Risinger was newly assigned to the Peoria County Courthouse and wanted to implement more efficient procedures. He communicated a 29-point memo to attorneys in his courtroom, and most of the points were mundane. But one of the points was… interesting. From the Peoria Journal-Star:

But one point, No. 6, laid out his sentencing philosophy, which is as follows:

* People should get a second chance but not necessarily a third chance.

* People who are sentenced to jail should go into custody immediately unless there are convincing reasons otherwise.

* If a public defender believes his client should get a break, he should raise that at sentencing.

“I told them to tell me immediately,” he said last week. “Pull me off the bench if you have to.”

However, his crib sheet states: “If left up to me, (the defendant) is going to jail right then. Young black males get a break if they deserve it. You can tell by their dress and attitude. Get my attention.”

Risinger says that his comments “weren’t racist” and his comments about “breaks” applied to all people, not just black people.

Which is a nice story… except for the part where he said, “Young black males get a break if they deserve it. You can tell by their dress and attitude.” That really sounds like he was saying that young black males who deserve a “break” will get his attention by dressing well and having the right attitude. Sorry judge, but that’s racist. I’m not looking for racism where there is none or “race-baiting.” The JUDGE said he would JUDGE BLACK PEOPLE based on how they dressed.

As Chris Rock would say, what does he have to do for us to call him “racist,” shoot Medgar Evers?

And look, I know that there are certain white people who really want it to be “not racist” to judge black people based on how they dress. But it’s prejudiced to judge a book by its cover and it’s racist to only judge black books by their covers:

[Risinger] said, he believes young, black men are a “group in crisis” and he wants to give them the benefit of the doubt.

He wants to be lenient with black men in crisis… but only if they’re wearing nice clothes and have good attitudes? Well hell man, seems to me like the black guy in the suit that shows proper courtroom etiquette is maybe NOT the black guy in crisis who is most deserving of judicial leniency. Maybe, if we’re going to be living in a world where the benefit of the doubt is doled out based on fashion sense, it’s the young black men who roll into the courtroom in gold chains with lawyers who don’t even tell them to get their hair out of a do-rag that are deserving of a little understanding of their unique circumstances.

Even if you have the best intentions, analyzing a man based on the clothes he wears is, at best, extremely lazy. Well-dressed men commit heinous crimes, poorly dressed men have hearts of gold, and you can’t tell. Racial profiling is like the One Ring: it cannot be used for good.

I’m now going to put on a hoodie and menace the white people on the subway who are stupid enough to be afraid of me.

Peoria judge reassigned amid concerns over sentencing philosophy [Peoria Journal-Star]


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